SE: Q&A with K-State HOF Inductee Liz Wegner-Busch
Wegner-Busch assisted K-State in one of their most successful four-year spells in history between 1998-2001. The Wildcats have won 80 games in those four years and have appeared in four NCAA tournaments. Selected three times as an All-Big 12, Wegner became the first player in school history to earn a spot on an NCAA tournament all-star team. She has also been an All-Big Academic Selection twice.
D. Scott Fritchen from K-State Sports Extra spoke to Wegner-Busch ahead of his return to K-State for his Hall of Fame induction:
FSN: What is Liz Wegner-Busch doing today?
LSF: We live in Manhattan and I have been a medical assistant in a family practice since 2008. I love that we can raise our families in Manhattan. Noah, my husband, is a biology teacher at Manhattan High’s ninth grade center and we have four children: Bailey is 12, Benjamin and Bode are 11, and Bryn is 8. I love being a mother. Each phase is fabulous. We keep busy. It feels like home in Manhattan. Children can really get involved in college. Obviously, I’m a die-hard K-State fan, so I like to be with that. I graduated in kinesiology. I’ve always wanted to help people, maybe get into physiotherapy or medical school, so that has always been in my plans. My older sister has a disability, so I spent much of my childhood helping her and she had a lot of health issues. Helping people has always been a part of the plan. I have always enjoyed being an athlete and working with athletes so kinesiology was perfect for me and I met all of my premedical requirements. I like helping people.
FSN: You were the first two-time All-American women’s volleyball player in K-State history and set the all-time record with over 1,900 kills. What do you remember the most from your playing days?
LSF: I loved every minute of it. I’m from Nebraska and volleyball is a huge sport there. Nebraska wanted me to walk because they didn’t have a scholarship. When I got to K-State, I fell in love with everything. Just as I was driving around town, I knew this was where I needed to be. I knew I would have a great opportunity to become a better player. I loved the coaches, and of course, Suzie fritz and Jeff Grove are still at K-State. It was the coaches who recruited me. I loved being able to compete. The whole mentality at K-State is that we are going to work and grind. We don’t have all the sophisticated, highly recruited athletes. We have athletes who are going to outdo everyone and fight. This is who I am. This is who we were. I wanted to help build the program and improve it. From the start of my career until the end of my career, the program has grown considerably. It was a great place for me to grow up in volleyball and in life.
FSN: The common theme for a lot of the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame class this year is that a lot of you weren’t necessarily very recruited, and then came to K-State with a bullet on your shoulder, and got out of your way. beat and got better, and came away as one of the best to ever play here while helping to develop the program further. It’s kind of the K-State way, isn’t it?
LSF: Nebraska said I was too small and could walk on it. It definitely made me want to improve myself. K-State gave me the opportunity to play against Nebraska in our conference. We had a group of girls from the state of Nebraska on our team, and we all had a chip on our shoulders and had something to prove. Then we beat Nebraska for the first time in over 60 years on their home turf. I will always remember that night for the rest of my life. It was amazing and historic. We never gave up. We have proven that we can play. It was a three hour battle. Nebraska packed all of our fans into a little nook, but they were screaming and fighting for us, and it was amazing. We’ve had people celebrating all the way back. We didn’t get back until around 2 a.m. I don’t think any of us got to sleep that night.
At K-State we had the best crowds, the fans, the students, they all came out to support us. They all came to Ahearn Fieldhouse, which I will always have a big place in my heart for Ahearn, but there was always such a great family mentality in K-State with all the sports, and everyone was so friendly and so helpful around the community. We had a group of players from Nebraska, and we wanted to go out there and make a name for K-State. We were trying to develop the sport of volleyball in the state of Kansas and had a lot of summer camps and just tried to help the sport of volleyball become a big thing in the state. We wanted little girls to grow up playing volleyball.
FSN: What have you learned the most about yourself in your K-State career? What are you most proud of?
LSF: I am a fairly calm and reserved person naturally, but I have been able to gain confidence in myself and have learned to speak for myself and to have a sense of autonomy. It came through many experiences I had playing volleyball, traveling, and talking on Catbacker tours. I had the opportunity to expose myself more, and I probably wouldn’t have done so if I hadn’t had those kinds of opportunities. It really made me come out of myself and become more confident. It was a great opportunity for me to pursue my career goals and play volleyball. I have to do everything. I would do it again without hesitation.
FSN: When were all the records and your accomplishments set?
LSF: With time, age, and wisdom, you begin to understand the meaning. I think now I look at these young athletes and see how the game has evolved, and I sit down and I’m like, “I really did that. A lot of people now don’t know anything about what I have accomplished. They don’t know that about me. I had a few former teammates texting me the other night about this Hall of Fame induction, and I told them I couldn’t have been where I am without any of the between them. It’s a family affair. We did it together. They pushed me, and I hope I pushed them. It is amazing what we have been able to accomplish. We texted to say it was the best time of our lives. I look at him with so much affection.
FSN: Are your children involved in sports?
LSF: Oh yeah, I’m watching my daughter play volleyball today. I coach his club team and I coach younger girls. I try to help educate volleyball. My kids play basketball, my boys wrestle and play football. We remain very involved in the sport.
FSN: Do your children know about your exceptional career at K-State?
LSF: Well i dont know. They haven’t had the chance to see any video from our games, or any highlights, but I insisted that I will be there with Darren Sproles and Jordy Nelson, and I think they can relate to that a little more . Then they start to put the pieces together. Obviously, with the ability to go to K-State volleyball games and introduce them to Kendra Wecker and Nicole Ohlde, there’s a group of athletes from my day that they’ve been able to meet, and I tell my kids what’s amazing about the athletes they are so i think maybe they are starting to know a little more but i hope they enjoy the experience of being around as much as i do by K-State.
FSN: When did you find out you were going to be inducted? When did you get the call and what was your response?
LSF: I was at work in my office with another medical assistant when I got the call. They told me that I had been chosen to be part of the K-State Athletics Hall of Fame. I was speechless and so surprised and shocked. I definitely shed tears just because I wasn’t expecting it. I immediately called my parents and my husband. They were very happy. I cried a lot of tears, happy, surprised, very, very honored, but my medical assistant asked me, “Are you okay?” I said, “Yes, I just found out that I am going to enter the K-State Track and Field Hall of Fame.” She was very happy for me. You talk about life coming full circle. We’re at Stonecreek Family Physicians, and Dr. Hinkin was there, and he was our team doctor when I was playing K-State, and then he hired me. It’s a cool full circle. I told him I was going to be inducted. It was all very humiliating. I am so honored.